What Is Tooth Resorption?
In dentistry, the term resorption is used to describe the rebuilding process between bone and teeth that leads to loss of the tooth structure.
In primary (baby) teeth, the roots undergo physiological resorption as part of the normal dental development, allowing room for permanent (adult) teeth to erupt.
However, when the resorption occurs to an adult tooth, it is considered a pathological process, which can lead to permanent damage and sometimes even loss of the entire tooth.
What Causes Resorption in Adult Teeth?
In healthy adult teeth, the pulp (the innermost structure of a tooth) and roots are protected against pathologic resorption by a layer called pre-dentin and pre-cementum. However, when these layers are disrupted and inflammation occurs in the area, the cells involved in the remodeling of our body tissue can invade the tooth and start dissolving the tooth structure.
Although the exact cause of resorption in adult teeth is not fully understood to this date, there have been several attempts to link specific events to pathologic tooth resorption:
- Dental trauma
- Tooth decay
- Excessive orthodontic treatment (braces)
- Teeth whitening
- Kissing a cat (feline herpesvirus)
- Surgical extraction of adjacent teeth
- Surgical periodontal (gum) treatment
- Grinding or clenching teeth
- Developmental defects
- Certain systemic diseases or medications
Signs of Tooth Resorption
It is common to have no signs or symptoms of tooth resorption, especially during the early stages. Sometimes resorption may be spotted from x-rays taken during your regular check-up by your general dentist.
However, as the resorption progresses, you may notice some signs and symptoms:
- Pink or dark discoloration of the tooth
- Crevice or bump in the tooth near the gum line
- Swelling or redness of the gums
- Tooth pain
What Are the Treatment Option for Tooth Resorption?
To accurately diagnose the resorption, Dr. Alan Lee scans the tooth in CBCT (3-D x-ray) to determine the exact location, type, and severity of the resorption. Then, he tests the tooth to find out if the resorption has resulted in root canal disease.
In most cases, treatment for resorption involves root canal treatment. For some teeth, surgical intervention is necessary to repair the damaged structure, whereas some instances only require periodic monitoring of the teeth.
Below is a list of possible treatment options we may propose for you:
- No treatment – continue to monitor
- Root canal treatment (single or multiple visits)
- Surgical repair only
- Root canal treatment and surgical repair
Resorption of a tooth is not a common disease and often treated by endodontic specialists like Dr. Alan Lee. If it is left untreated, with or without symptoms, you may end up losing the tooth.
Schedule a Consultation Appointment
If you suspect that your tooth may be undergoing resorption or were told by your general dentist to treat the resorption, please contact our Reston, VA dental office by calling or texting (703) 429-9926 to schedule a consultation appointment with Dr. Alan Lee.
We also serve patients in Herndon, Chantilly, Centerville, Manassas, Vienna, Fairfax, Tysons, Great Falls, Sterling, Ashburn, South Riding, Loudon County, and surrounding communities.